Case Study:
Water and Wastewater Utilities
Planning for Climate Change
CLEVELAND DIVISION OF WATER POLLUTION CONTROL
Background
The Cleveland Division of Water Pollution Control (WPC) is responsible for managing the sanitary sewage and
stormwater collection system in Cleveland, Ohio. Utilizing its own equipment and manpower, Cleveland WPC cleans
and services approximately 15,000 catch basins, cleans 400,000 feet of sewers and inspects 250,000 feet of sewers via
video annually to eliminate potential street and basement flooding. The sewer collection system transfers sanitary
sewage and stormwater from its point of origin to treatment facilities. Cleveland WPC also implements pollution
prevention programs through its Public Involvement and Public Education (PIPE) program.
Climate Threats
Cleveland WPC identified intense precipitation events as a primary climate threat. Cleveland WPC has ongoing issues
with intense precipitation events and resultant pollution issues due to combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and
sedimentation from stream bank erosion. Lake Erie beaches had especially bad pollution following heavy precipitation
events which restricted recreational and swimming activities. One beach in particular incurred heavy pollution and
recreational restrictions for days following the rain events, all of which received considerable coverage in the local
media. Recently, Cleveland WPC has seen an increase in extreme events, including increased water levels in creeks,
more CSO events and increased sedimentation.
Cleveland WPC noted that the high intensity rain events have been happening more frequently. During an extreme
flooding event that occurred in July 2014, Cleveland WPC did not experience infrastructure damage, but did sustain
basement and street flooding as sewers and pump stations could not keep up with floodwaters. The Northeast Ohio
Regional Sewer District had considerable infrastructure damage and was forced to shut down for a short period of time
following this event.
Planning Process
To better understand the vulnerability of their sanitary sewage and stormwater collection system, Cleveland WPC
assessed potential climate change impacts using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Climate Resilience
Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT). The CREAT assessment brought together individuals from EPA and various
departments within Cleveland WPC, state agencies and local environmental organizations to think critically about
potential climate impacts, prioritize assets and consider possible adaptation options.
Adaptation Measures
Cleveland WPC considered the potential consequences of extreme flooding events on their drinking water and
wastewater utility infrastructure and operations. To assess each of these potential threats, Cleveland WPC considered
how potential adaptive measures would help lower consequences. See the table below for potential adaptive measures
that were considered.
Cleveland Division of Water Pollution Control Case StudyŚ Page 1
SEPA

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Case Study: Water and Wastewater Utilities Planning for Climate Change
TYPE	POTENTIAL ADAPTIVE MEASURES
Pump station
flooding protection
Back-up power for pump stations
Increased system capacity for higher wastewater stormwater influent volumes
Improved watershed management
Improved community outreach
Emergency response plan focused on operations during pump station outages due to power
failures or other necessary shut downs
Building code changes regarding downspout disconnections
Community/
Government options
Building code changes regarding best management practices
Building code changes regarding riparian setbacks
Green infrastructure throughout the community to capture stormwater flows
Research community partnerships
Contact Information
For more information regarding Cleveland WPC's climate adaptation planning, contact Rachid Zoghaib
at RZoqhaib@clevelandwpc.com.
Cleveland Division of Water Pollution Control Case StudyŚ Page 2
&EPA
Office of Water (4608T)
EPA 800-Q-15-011
December 2015

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